“They seem like men who lift up axes among the thick trees…” Psalm 74:5
A few years ago, five of my closest friends joined me to create a non profit organization in an effort to give life survival skills to young fatherless boys living in Detroit. The five part two day workshop covered key pillars or strengths that we believed strong men of God possessed. Although every session imparted much needed information to the young men, it was the session that focused on manhood that was the most intense. In this session, we helped the participants understand the difference between males, boys, and men.
Stop and ask yourself this important question: “what is it that makes a man a strong man?” Is it the bass in his voice? Is it his rippling biceps and six pack abdomen muscles? Is it his ability to make a baby or to give and take a hard punch? Amazingly during each workshop we were amazed at the number of young and older men that have accepted these illusions of true manhood and it is the same illusion that came to mind while I pondered what the scripture above meant by proclaiming that the men “seemed like men.”
Not long ago, author Naim Akbar outlined the progression to manhood according to the following:
The male stage is equivalent to the infant stage where babies are known to be driven by their passion and emotions. They cry if they are wet and will get angry if they don’t get their way. Mr. Akbar reasoned that many adult men are still in the male stage.
The Boyhood stage is next and most boys, if not all, love to play games. They may understand that they have to wait for certain things in life, but they will often get impatient and take what they want when no one is looking. For example, adult men that are in this stage prefer to play the game of marriage rather than be married. Few would argue that there are many adult men stuck in the boy stage.
According to Akbar, the last stage is reserved for real men. They recognize that they are ultimately responsible for providing a spiritual covering and leadership of their families and communities. They think about others first and will sacrifice often to lift up others. Many of society’s biggest problems would disappear overnight if the majority of men progressed to this stage.
In the Bible, when God sent Samuel on a search for a new king to replace Saul, he didn’t look for the illusionary things like muscles, hairy chest, and deep voice. Instead, he went looking a man after God’s on heart. He found the new king in the form of young boy named David who proved to be very much a strong man. Years later while on his deathbed, David encouraged his son to “show thyself a man.” He didn’t tell him to lift weights, dress fancy, or drive a big car. Rather he instructed him to follow the word of God and become a man first on the inside.
There are many in the world today that “seem like men” because they wear the world’s perception of manhood. This precept preaches that men have to live and demonstrate their strength as if they are “carrying an axe in thick trees.” If you want to know the real strength of a man, don’t look at his muscles….look at his heart.